Film Review – Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
I resisted watching the new Star Wars movies for a long time because I am a grumpy middle-aged lady who really doesn’t care about this particular intellectual property. I don’t hate the original trilogy, but the prequels kind of sucked. Not because of their dumbass plots – although that certainly didn’t work in their favor – but because of their gooey sentimentality. The new films don’t escape that flaw but somehow manage to balance it out with a ton of fun. (At least the first film did. I thought The Last Jedi was pretty and pretty boring.) How does Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker stack up? It’s action-packed, overly sentimental fun. There’s a ton of stuff I could have done without, but it’s not really made for me. (If it was, there would be a lot more necromancy and far fewer cute fuzzy beings.) There are lots of pew pews, fast flying, and returning friends and enemies. It wraps up the storyline and says goodbye to a family of characters that many people have come to love. I wouldn’t say it’s great filmmaking, but it’s okay entertainment, and sometimes that’s the best you are going to get.
So this is where I would normally give a synopsis of the plot, but they asked us not to give detailed story points in our reviews, and after thinking about it, I decided not to give any at all. Not because I was asked to refrain, but because it really doesn’t matter what the plot is; the real meat of any Star Wars story is how the characters interact and grow closer. Not just the Skywalker family, but the resistance as a whole. Events take place in order move character A closer to character B – physically and emotionally. Rey and Kylo Ren. Kylo Ren and his parents. Luke and Leia and Han. Rey and Poe and Finn. The convoluted plots and epic battles are fun, but I don’t usually get grumpy when things don’t make sense because that’s not really what these movies are about. Star Wars is about friendship, and there are much worse things you could center your space opera subtext around.
So why don’t I care about Star Wars more? Because it really feels like nobody in this universe bones. On Star Trek, everyone is doing it. Star Wars not so much. You know Lando gets laid, but everybody else is too busy being noble or conflicted or devil-may-care to have any carnal feelings. And I find that boring. I 100% get why people ship Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and Rey (Daisy Ridley); their relationship is the closest thing this series has to deeper passions. Sex is the energy that makes the world go round, and for the life of me I can’t figure out what motivates people in this universe. (I am blocking everything that happened between Amidala and Anikan. Ew.) Even the early flirtation between Han and Leia felt tame. I was looking forward to Finn (John Boyega) and Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) deepening their friendship into something a little spicier, but nope. SHE’S HARDLY IN THIS. As far as shipping Poe and Finn, I think Poe (Oscar Isaac) is too annoying for sweet Finn. Oh yeah, and speaking of Poe, he gets redeemed from his actions in the last movie a little too quickly for my tastes. I guess redemption is pretty easy if you just BELIEVE IN THE POWER OF FRIENDSHIP. (I believe in the power of friendship, I really do. But come on.) I wasn’t very keen on The Last Jedi, but it was really the only episode to give us any grand emotions. Most of that is missing from this film.
I guess if I’m going to complain I should add that fake Carrie Fisher is beyond uncanny valley creepy, although nowhere near as bad as fake Peter Cushing in Rogue One. Also, this is the kind of movie where whatever you need just happens to show up when you need it. It’s convenient for the characters (and pushing the plot along) but it doesn’t create any tension. Things happen, but there are no real stakes. (I’m pretty sure these movies could be better written, but I don’t work in Hollywood. Maybe it actually is impossible.) Also, TOO SENTIMENTAL. (But not as bad as the end of that one hobbit movie where all the hobbits were jumping on the bed in the beautiful morning light. I hate those movies.) But, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I had a good time. For all the things I thought were dumb about this, I still enjoyed myself. I like big space battles and exciting chase scenes, and I was pretty satisfied with where things ended up. It’s a dumb movie, but I don’t know why anyone would expect anything else. I don’t know how a fan would judge this, but I didn’t get bored, and that was kind of a pleasant surprise.